November 28, 2011 / 1:41 AM / 7 years ago

Syracuse head coach to speak publicly Tuesday

SYRACUSE, New York (Reuters) - The Hall of Fame head coach of Syracuse University’s basketball team whose assistant was fired over allegations of sexually molesting boys, stayed mum about the growing scandal on Monday but will speak publicly after a Tuesday game, the school said.

Jim Boeheim, whose multimillion dollar basketball program has been rocked by the accusation against assistant coach Bernie Fine, will hold a news conference following the home game against Eastern Michigan University, the Syracuse University Athletic Department said.

It was not clear if Boeheim would address the scandal or would stick to discussing the game only.

Fine, who was fired on Sunday, is the target of a grand jury investigation into accusations that he molested a former ball boy, Bobby Davis, 39, and at least one other boy, his stepbrother Mike Lang, 45, when they were juveniles.

Fine has called the claims “patently false in every aspect.”

Fine’s firing came after ESPN played on the air an audio recording it said was of a 2002 conversation between Davis and Fine’s wife Laurie, in which she said she knew about the alleged molestation but felt unable to stop it. The conversation was recorded by Davis without her knowledge, ESPN said.

Boeheim, Fine’s boss of 35 years and a Hall of Fame coach, said on Sunday he supported the firing, abandoning his strong support for Fine when the allegations surfaced last week.

“What is most important is that this matter be fully investigated,” he said in a statement posted on Facebook.

“I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse,” he added.

The university first investigated and dismissed the allegations for lack of corroboration in 2005.

Syracuse will play Eastern Michigan on Tuesday evening. The university in upstate New York is considered one of the top college basketball programs in the country, and the team is undefeated early in the season.

On Monday, the basketball team was practicing at a closed session.

No one answered the doors at the homes of Fine or Boeheim. The two families live across the street from each other.

Also on Tuesday, Syracuse Police, which have launched a probe into the allegations against Fine, said they will share their information with the Onondaga District Attorney’s office, which launched the grand jury investigation.

Details of the investigations have so far not been made public, and the allegations have been based on statements made by the alleged victims.

District Attorney William Fitzpatrick has said the police refused to share information.

“The Syracuse Police Department will provide the information requested by the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday,” the police said in a statement, calling it “the appropriate time.”

“We have now moved into a new phase of the investigation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the United States Secret Service taking the lead,” the police said.

New York state police and agents with the U.S. Secret Service executed a search warrant at Fine’s home on Friday. Experts said federal involvement could indicate the serious nature of possible crimes.

The world of college sports had already been reeling from allegations of abuse and possible cover-ups at football powerhouse Penn State, where a former assistant coach faces 40 sexual abuse charges.

The charges of molesting eight boys over 15 years against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky have cost the jobs of legendary football coach Joe Paterno and school president Graham Spanier.

Syracuse is the third major university to disclose abuse allegations after Penn State and South Carolina military college The Citadel, which disclosed that a student it investigated in 2005 had been arrested for sexually molesting boys.

Additional reporting by Lauren Keiper in Boston, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Greg McCune

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